Saturday, September 20, 2008

Five Leaves Debuts!

There isn't often a whole lot of hype when new restaurants open in Greenpoint, so I was excited when Five Leaves made its loud debut on Bedford Ave, right across from Lokal. I think a big part of the excitement has to do with the fact that the late Heath Ledger was a big financial contributor, and that Michelle Williams and Mary-Kate Olson attended the private opening on Tuesday (Wow, celebrities right in our own backyard!). Rob and I went to check it out on Thursday, and sure enough, the place was crawling with the neighborhood's trendiest just dying to be seen there. Even though the service was a little slow, I felt that the food was good enough to live up to the hype.

Five Leaves takes up an oddly-shaped corner space, and the designers did a great job of taking full advantage of it. A slight nautical theme features steel wallpaper, steel and wire light fixtures and poles wrapped in rope, but despite its hard appeal the restaurant manages to be really cozy and warm. A long alley of tables ends in an exposed kitchen to the right and a heavy door at the end leading to a similarly themed bathroom. The most unique part of the setup, though, is the Coffee To-Go window, which allows passersby to grab a cup of joe without having to elbow their way to the bar.

The bar has a few specialty cocktails, so I forwent my usual Stella and tried the Moscow Mule, vodka with lime juice and lots of ginger. At first I thought it would be too acidic and strong, but it was mixed perfectly. I have a feeling the bartender knew what he was doing. He seemed pretty confident when he told me he made excellent martinis and margaritas too.

For an appetizer we tried the homemade ricotta with figs and honey, which was amazing. The cheese was slightly more crumbly and less creamy than the kind you get at the store, and the herbs and figs gave it a nice Italian taste. Excuse the dark picture as it was awfully dim in there.

Now onto dinner. Rob and I both had a meat craving so he got a cheeseburger and I got the hanger steak. Rob's burger was pretty standard, unfortunately they forgot the bacon but it was tall and meaty all the same. The roll it was served on tasted fresh (not your typical hamburger bun) and they were accompanied by truffle fries (which unfortunately tasted a lot like normal fries to us). My hanger steak was a little more fun. While not anywhere near as tender as the hanger steak at Williamsburg's Pampa Grill, they jazzed it up with all the right ingredients. It's served with harissa butter, which is pungent (garlic, chili peppers, and other spices) and adds a nice kick of flavor. The mashed potatoes were surprisingly flavorful, lots of garlic and salt, it tasted like Thanksgiving came early this year. Then a nice vidalia onion for good measure. My only complaint was that after eating it, I was still hungry. Luckily they had a good dessert menu (which included a sorbet from my beloved Il Laboratorio Del Gelato).

Hanger Steak with Mashed Potatoes

I was feeling adventurous, so I ordered the poached pear instead. The waitress said it came with a custard, but instead it was just plain vanilla ice cream (which was fine with me). The duo was sprinkled with almonds and drizzled with honey, bringing our meal full circle. I would have lingered and ordered another drink, but at this point the place was becoming too loud and crowded for my taste. We paid as soon as we could get our waitress' attention -- couldn't they have told us it was cash-only beforehand? -- and elbowed our way out. I'm excited that this place is so is close to home, but I'm wondering how long it will be before the hype dies down.

Poached Pear and Ice Cream

No comments: